The Relationship between Divisive Primaries and Ge
neral Election OutcomesPatrick Kenney and Tom Rice’s article explores the effect of primary elections on the general presidential elections. Kenney and Rice attempt to determine whether supporters of losing primary candidates refrain from voting for their party in the general election. In order to better understand this concept of divisive primaries, it is imperative to know its definition. Webster defines divisive as: Creating, or tending to create, division, separation, or difference. However, I feel that divisiveness arises out of the need to superior and
The topic of voter turnout and primary significance has been a long running question. According to Kenney and Rice the primary campaign is a struggle between groups, fighting for a “scarce resource,” the nomination. As research has shown, supporters of a losing candidate have been shown to retain bitterness towards the winning side of a primary. Our authors also mention the introduction of in-group loyalties, and out-group hostilities, which affect a voter’s attitude. The in-group loyalties tend to be formed because of the length of primary elections, thus voters feel very strong and passionate about their candidate, and because the stakes are greater. The out-group hostilities are formed for the same reasons. In general, the longer the campaigns the stronger the in-group and out-group feelings are.
With the definition of divisive primaries being known, we can now determine whether they are beneficial, or not beneficial to the general presidential elections. Kenney and Rice analyze the effect of divisive primaries on the Democratic general election vote. They have broken down the impact of the primaries into five factors, which contribute to the end result of the general election. First, the traditional patterns of a state need to be considered. Second, control is necessary to tap the influence of minor-party movements on the Democratic percentage of the vote. Third, the status of the incumbent must also be controlled. Fourth, a control variable is needed to account for the unique politics of the South, since they have traditionally be strictly Democratic. Finally, a control may be useful to assess gradual shifts in the normal Democratic vote.
Typically, primaries are very effective tools for making the potential candidates and eventually making them the clear favorites to represent their party in the general election. In this years primary elections, George W. Bush had a difficult primary season. He was competing against John McCain and some other candidate who ran very good campaigns and gave Bush some difficulties in the large primaries. In the end Bush ran the best campaign and won his parties nomination for the general election and is a stronger candidate for his stiff competition. Al Gore, as the Vice President, really was the clear-cut nominee for the Democratic Party all through the primaries, despite having competition; he was never really challenged in the primaries. Due to the lack of competition I feel that Gore may be weaker in some facets of candidacy. Without having to really debate at a serious level I feel that Gore may have lost the opportunity to gain some valuable experience.
In the end, primaries have done a wonderful job of bringing the best candidates to the top and earning their parties nomination for the Presidential election. This process is strengthened by divisiveness, which stimulates competition, and brings important information to the forefront.